Soon after the founding of the University of Wisconsin in 1848, the department was created as one of the first academic units at the university. The Department of Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies (CANES) has enjoyed a long tradition of excellence in philological scholarship, literary criticism, archaeology, and ancient history. At the graduate level, the department offers the master of arts and doctor of philosophy in classical and ancient near eastern studies. Students may follow one of two courses of study, classical languages and literatures, or Hebrew bible.
The primary goal of the program is to familiarize students with the core linguistic, historical, and philological aspects of classical and ancient near eastern studies. Students also learn to conduct original research in such varied areas as gender studies, literary theory, translation studies, and classical reception under the guidance of established scholars in these areas.
In addition to specified coursework, students participate in directed readings with individual faculty members in their areas of specialization and gain valuable professional experience teaching in courses on the languages, literature, and culture of the ancient world. Additional work may be done in allied fields such as archaeology, art history, linguistics, comparative literature, history, philosophy, and political science. Affiliated faculty in many of these fields regularly offer courses, supervise theses and dissertations, and participate in department activities.
A wide range of professional networks provides graduate students with enhanced opportunities for education and career development. In addition to faculty connections to scholars and institutions in their fields of study, the department has formal affiliations with the Society for Classical Studies, the Classical Association of the Middle West and South, the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the American Schools of Oriental Research.
The Pillinger Library and Mansoor Reading Room, both located within the department, provide convenient access to a large number of texts, while the larger Greek and Latin Reading Room in the Memorial Library contains an extensive, noncirculating research collection of texts and commentaries. The Memorial Library maintains an excellent research collection of books and periodicals in classics and Hebrew bible, with many of its resources available online.
The department annually offers graduate fellowship support and teaching assistantships. In order for incoming students to be considered for fellowships, applications and all other materials should reach the department by January 5.
Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress
To make progress toward a graduate degree, students must meet the Graduate School Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress in addition to the requirements of the program.
Ph.D., with available named options in Classics, and Hebrew Bible
Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement
Ph.D. named option in Classics: 72 credits
Ph.D. named option in Hebrew Bible: 68 credits
Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement
Ph.D. named option in Classics: 36 credits
Ph.D. named option in Hebrew Bible: 36 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement
Ph.D. named option in Classics: In addition to requirements for the M.A., 36 credits out of 72 total credits must be completed in a combination of graduate seminars and departmental courses specifically designed for graduate students. Courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.
Ph.D. named option in Hebrew Bible: In addition to requirements for the M.A., 51 credits out of 68 total credits must be completed in a combination of graduate seminars and departmental courses specifically designed for graduate students. Courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.
Prior Coursework Requirements: Graduate Work from Other Institutions
With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of graduate course work from other institutions. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master's degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.
Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison Undergraduate
No credits from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree.
Prior Coursework Requirement: UW–Madison University Special
With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of course work numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison University Special students. Coursework earned ten or more years prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements. UW–Madison coursework taken as a University Special student would not be allowed to count toward the 50% graduate coursework minimum unless taken at the 700 level or above.
Credits per Term Allowed
Program-Specific Courses Required
Ph.D. named option in Classics:
- At least five graduate seminars (numbered 700 or higher, 15 credits) are required. This can includes one graduate seminar previously taken for the M.A. requirement. Of the five graduate seminars specifically designed for graduate students, four must be in classics, Greek, and Latin courses within the department (at least one in each language), and one in Ancient Greek or Roman history through the history department or cross-listed with classics.
- One graduate course in Greek prose composition (500 level with graduate students assessed separately from undergraduates), and one graduate course in Latin prose composition (500 level with graduate students assessed separately from undergraduates) (6 credits) are required.
- One graduate course (700 level or above) in either Greek or Roman art and archaeology (3 credits) is required.
- One CANES advanced seminar in theory and method (3 credits) is required.
- The remainder of the minimum credits must be competed in graduate-level language and literature courses within the department at 500 level (this course range in classics does assess graduate students separately from undergraduates) or above (these courses in classics are specifically designed for graduate students), or in graduate seminars (700 level or above).
Ph.D. named option in Hebrew Bible:
- One additional two-semester Language sequence (Aramaic, Ugaritic and Canaanite, or Syriac) (6 credits).
- One additional two-semester Text sequence (Pentateuch, Isaiah, and Psalms and Wisdom) (6 credits).
- 6 credits of Greek at the Intermediate Level (300 level) or higher. Other languages may be taken with prior approval of the Director of Graduate Studies.
- 3 credits in whichever of Classical Hebrew Linguistics, Biblical Archaeology, or Rabbinic Texts was not taken for the M.A.
- 6 credits in two seminars.
Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements
All doctoral students are required to complete a minor. Students may not complete a minor with the same name as their named option. Students are expected to consult with their advisors concerning minor/breadth requirements.
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement
Other Grade Requirements
The Graduate School requires an average grade of B or better in all coursework (300 or above, not including research credits) taken as a graduate student unless conditions for probationary status require higher grades. Grades of Incomplete are considered to be unsatisfactory if they are not removed during the next enrolled semester.
The status of a student can be one of three options:
- Good standing (progressing according to standards; any funding guarantee remains in place).
- Probation (not progressing according to standards but permitted to enroll; loss of funding guarantee; specific plan with dates and deadlines in place in regard to removal of probationary status.
- Unsatisfactory progress (not progressing according to standards; not permitted to enroll, dismissal, leave of absence or change of advisor or program).
Advisor / Committee
All students are required to conduct a yearly progress report meeting with the graduate advisor.
Candidates for the Ph.D. should form a provisional dissertation committee, consisting of a Dissertation Advisor and at least two additional faculty advisors from within the department, the semester before they reach dissertator status
Assessments and Examinations
Ph.D. named option in Classics: The student must pass the ancient history examination as well as all language requirements below before beginning work on preliminary exams. Four preliminary examinations are required before the dissertation: Greek literature, Latin literature, Greek author chosen by the student, and Latin author chosen by the student.
Ph.D. named option in Hebrew Bible: The student must pass the Ph.D. course requirements and the other foreign language reading requirements before beginning work on preliminary exams. Four preliminary examinations are required before the dissertation: Proficiency in Hebrew, Proficiency in Northwest Semitic languages, General Exam based on the reading list, and Special Field Exam.
Both Options: After successful completion of the preliminary exams, students form a provisional dissertation committee, consisting of a dissertation advisor and at least two additional faculty advisors from within the department. Students are required to defend a dissertation proposal before the provisional committee, write the dissertation, and pass a two-hour oral examination on the dissertation given by a full five member dissertation committee.
A candidate for a doctoral degree who fails to take the final oral examination and deposit the dissertation within 5 years after passing the preliminary examination may by require to take another preliminary examination and to be admitted to candidacy a second time.
Doctoral degree students who have been absent for ten or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.
The student must pass a sight-reading proficiency examination in Latin, Greek, and German. A sight-reading proficiency examination in French or Italian must also be passed before beginning work on the dissertation. Exams from the M.A. may be counted toward this requirement.
Applicants for graduate study may enter the program with either a B.A. or master’s (M.A., M.Div., Th.M.) degree. For the classics named option, candidates are expected to have covered at least the equivalent of an undergraduate major in classics, which consists of at least three years of both Greek and Latin. For the named option in Hebrew bible, candidates are expected to have taken at least two years of biblical Hebrew and one year of Greek.
Candidates whose preparation falls short of the minimum requirements may be admitted with deficiencies at the discretion of the department, but will be required to do additional work within the first year of the program. Applications are evaluated on the basis of previous academic record, Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores, letters of recommendation, the writing sample, and a personal statement.
Knowledge and Skills
- Articulates research problems, potentials, and limits with respect to theory, knowledge, or practice in the field of Classics or Hebrew Bible.
- Formulates ideas, concepts, and approaches beyond the current boundaries of knowledge within Classics or Hebrew Bible.
- Creates research and scholarship that makes a substantive contribution.
- Demonstrates breadth within their learning experiences.
- Advances contributions of Classics or Hebrew Bible to society.
- Communicates complex ideas in a clear and understandable manner.
- Fosters ethical and professional conduct.
Faculty in Classics: Professors Aylward, McClure, McKeown, Vanden Heuval; Associate Professor Beneker (department chair); Assistant Professors Brockliss, Dressler, Nelsestuen, Pandey.
Faculty in Hebrew Bible: Professor Troxel; Associate Professor Hutton
CANES Affiliate Faculty: Professors Cahill (Art History), Gottlieb (Philosophy), Kleijwegt (History), Neville (History); Associate Professor Kapust (Political Science); Assistant Professors Fletcher (Philosophy), Taylor (History)